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Standards Working Group

In 2007, as part of the reauthorization of the Head Start program, Congress called for revision of the Head Start Program Performance Standards. The Act required that the Secretary "ensure that any such revisions in the standards will not result in the elimination of or any reduction in quality, scope, or types of health, educational, parental involvement, nutritional, social, or other services required to be provided" (see below for additional text from the Head Start Act).

Since then, both the Office of Head Start and the Head Start field have wrestled with how to make the regulations more accessible while maintaining the full scope of Head Start and Early Head Start services to children and families. The standards represent both the Head Start guarantee of high-quality and a means of achieving it. Over 18 months, members of the Head Start Standards Working Group convened by NHSA worked through many of the tricky questions about standards revision. The Working Group was chaired by Aubrey Nehring, CEO of Audubon Area Community Services, Inc. in Owensboro, KY; Ruth Neale, Director of YM & YWHA of Williamsburg, Inc. Head Start in New York, NY; and formerly Lori Alvarado of the Kansas Head Start Association.

The Office of Head Start is expected to release revised Head Start Program Performance Standards for comment in the spring of 2015.


(a) Standards-

(1) CONTENT OF STANDARDS- The Secretary shall modify, as necessary, program performance standards by regulation applicable to Head Start agencies and programs under this subchapter, including-- (A) performance standards with respect to services required to be provided, including health, parental involvement, nutritional, and social services, transition activities described in section 642A, and other services; (B) scientifically based and developmentally appropriate education performance standards related to school readiness that are based on the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework... (C) administrative and financial management standards; (D) standards relating to the condition and location of facilities… and (E) such other standards as the Secretary finds to be appropriate.


Working Group Members


Aubrey Nehring and Ruth Neale, Co-Chairs

Lori Alvarado, Former Co-Chair

Anat Weisenfreund Barbara Mainster Barbara Pickney Blair Hyatt Blanca Enriquez
Carla Clark Carla Unkefer Carlotte Brantley Cleo Rodriguez, Jr. Damon Carson
Deb Ross Dru O'Connor Emmalie Dropkin Gayle Kelly Jackie Dedman
Jennifer Helseth Karelia Harding Kathryn Helsel Linda Broyles Marian Detelj
Marianne Miller Marlene Midget Marvin Hogan Mary Hafner Mindy Zapata
Nancy Hard Patty Brown Paul Behrman Robin Britt Vanessa Rich
Verna Thompson Yasmina Vinci      



Watch a Webinar about the Recommendations

Check out a recording on NHSA's Youtube page



Read the Recommendations

Download the recommendations the Working Group made as the revised standards were being drafted

Visit our Performance Standards page to learn more about the impact of our recommendations and the current status of new Performance Standards!